House search update

31 January 2013

adorable small cottage house

Adorable home plan from Allison Ramsey Architects

You all were so kind to chime right in with advice for a couple of first time home buyers when I asked back in October, so I figured it was only polite to give you a little update. Here goes.

I mentioned in that first post that we had found a home that we really liked, and maybe even loved. At that point, John had already been looking at local listings for a few months, but for most of those months we were still in saving mode (and preoccupied with our wedding!) and hadn’t felt seriously about a property yet. When we found said house, our timeline was jerked forward by a few months, and we scrambled to put into place a pre-approved lending offer. Once we had that in hand, we reached out to a realtor (a friend’s mom); she immediately set up an appointment for us to go look that weekend.

Practically the first thing our realtor said when we arrived at her office a few days later was that “our” house had gone under contract. Womp womp. Yes, after being on the market for more than 100 days, and yes, in the two days between our inquiry and appointment. They agreed to let us tour the house anyway, and of course, we loved it in person. We loved the neighborhood, the house itself was well-maintained, and we adored the backyard.

We ended up making a backup offer on the property, and it was accepted. Our realtor told us that backup offers are pretty rare, not because deals don’t fall through (it’s not uncommon, since in NC a buyer can walk away from a signed contract for “no reason or any reason” during the due diligence period), but because most potential buyers don’t have the month and a half or so to wait around and see if the original sale goes through.

We found out in mid-November that the original sale did go through, so our offer became null and void. We were pretty disappointed, but not crushed, as we knew it was a long shot from the start and tried not to get our hopes up.

Since then we’ve been scouring the listings even more closely. I’m not sure about y’all, but I feel as though our local market is picking up — houses that are priced well in the $200,000-$300,000 zone can be snapped up seemingly overnight, and we’ve actually had several more houses that we had appointments to tour go under contract before we could get to the appointment! We’ve walked through eight additional houses in person and driven by many more, but none have piqued our interest.

Well, that’s not entirely true. There’s one house that we LOVE the looks of, but it’s right next to a school (I mean RIGHT next to), which means there’s a lot of on-street parking, something which John has a vendetta against. There’s another house that we really like (haven’t been inside yet), but it has a tenant in it until September, and there’s no way we’re going to close on a house with a tenant in it (this is why). Yet another house is extremely intriguing to us, but the commute would be awful for both of us.* John is salivating over Watched House No. 4, but it is firmly out of (but enticingly close to) our budget.

We have about four more months before we need to tell our leasing office that we do not intend to renew, and six more months before our lease expires. We have some time, and we’re certainly not panicked yet. That being said, we do have a very narrow range of neighborhoods/areas that we’re interested in, and not the most enormous budget. I’ll keep you updated as things progress!

How about y’all? Anyone else in the process of searching for a home?

*I actually just checked this listing while writing this post, and this house is now contingent, too!! So scratch that one off the list for good.

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January 31, 2013 10:17 am

I have to agree with John on the not living next to a school thing. We are currently renting and our house is on the street right across from the main road that the school is on. Parents are always parking on our street in the afternoon to wait for their kids to get out of school and walk to the car – it’s kind of a pain.

I wish we were in the market to buy right now! We’ll probably stay in our house (which is actually quite nice for now) for 2-2 1/2 more years because of the area we want to stay in. The Raleigh market is definitely picking up!

January 31, 2013 11:42 am

We recently bought a new home and also went through several contracts and offers before really settling on the one. It was a long and often discouraging process. We refused to switch our oldest daughter to a new school and also wanted to keep our budget modest so that probably made it much more difficult for us than it might have been. We had about a five square mile area to search, with a few neighborhoods that weren’t even on our radar price-wise.

But, even though the house we ended up buying needed to be completely gutted and remodeled, I am so grateful for how it all worked out. We paid much less than we had originally expected (even factoring in all of the rebuilding) and we basically have the place exactly how we would want it…or we will, once it is finally done and we can move in. :) I agree that the market is picking up all over – even here in Florida – and good places are going quick. Good luck! I can’t wait to see how wonderfully it works out for you guys!

Polka Dot Bide
January 31, 2013 6:28 pm

I think I just fell off my chair at your house prices, we are looking at $800k+ for something in our area of equal standard to what it looks like you are looking for. My gosh!

January 31, 2013 6:37 pm

Oh my goodness, that little house is heaven–can’t they just make one for me and hold onto it for whenever we’re ready to choose a place to live?

January 31, 2013 6:43 pm

A similar situation happened with my roommate and her fiance… They did a walk through on a home, fell in love and made an offer all in a 48 hour period. Unfortunately the house was already under contract. Unlike your situation, they were completely crushed; I felt so bad for her!! They’re still looking and clearly God is in control of the whole process… but I can now confidently say that I’m SO thankful Matt and I aren’t at the “home buyer” place yet! As much as we want to own a home, I can’t image going through that stress right now along with all the rest of the wedding and “life” plans! Good luck Em! (ps. and I think agree with John about the school – growing up on a farm, I’d have to say I’d get easily annoyed with all that traffic!)

January 31, 2013 7:09 pm

Ah, I was secretly hoping that this post was an announcement that you’d found something! As for living next to a school, my parents adored it. Granted, it was an elementary school on a small street in a tiny town, but we loved having access to the schoolyard (mostly for our dogs during the holidays) and my parents loved listening to the kids play during recess. Their situation was probably quite unique!

Michael & I are sending you lots of good house hunting vibes! We hope something works out soon!